When the Khalsa Youth Football Academy started back in 1988, the aim was to address the under-representation of the Asian community in the sport – but it’s evolved into so much more than that. And now Khalsa, based in Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire, has had a real boost after securing funding for its Connecting Hope project from money raised through The Health Lottery.
The newly launched Connecting Hope initiative will help a group of 14-to 18-year-olds in the local community learn the valuable skills they need to become mentors.
“The incentive is to have a qualification that sits proudly on their CVs,” says co-founder Bal Singh, amoxicillin po 49, “so it’s not just about football – it’s using transferable skillsets like effective communication and organising events.”
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Over the years Bal and his team have worked tirelessly to prevent isolation and bring the local community together. “Football is a mechanism of engagement. It’s great we can participate in sport – that’s the hook – but then we can also address key issues in society. Being able to do this means a lot to us. We’ve worked to tackle taboo subjects such as sexual grooming, bullying and racism, and we delivered a workshop post 9/11 when there were a lot of hate crimes towards the Sikh and Muslim communities.”
But none of this would be possible without the money raised through The Health Lottery, which is proud to support 3,200 grassroots projects throughout Britain. Each time you buy a ticket you’re helping to raise funds for good causes just like Khalsa – and, of course, you’re in with a chance of winning a cash prize.
A whopping £157 million has been won so far, with £120m million raised. “With this funding from People’s Health Trust, we can make a bigger impact” says Bal.
“It allows us to develop more hope for the wider community, which is essential for it to thrive. One of my full-time jobs is coach mentoring with the FA. It’s so important to create the next leaders – and people who are a bit older can pass on their wisdom to the next cohort. The future’s in good hands.
“Football’s such a good way of learning,” says Bal. “Our project is called Connecting Hope, so people who buy a ticket for The Health Lottery aren’t just giving themselves hope but the wider community too, and the people we’re mentoring now will become mentors of the future.”
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